If you live in housing that is owned or arranged by your employer (crewleader or grower), you are covered by the North Carolina Migrant Housing Act.
Your housing should be safe and in good conditions.
Your housing should have been inspected by the North Carolina Department of Labor before you arrived and a current certificate from that agency should be posted in one of the buildings at the camp, normally either the dining hall or kitchen or an entry hall.
The North Carolina Migrant Housing Act requires some basic standards be met in order for employers to provide the housing to workers. For example, the site of the buildings or trailers must be adequately drained.
In addition, the housing must:
- provide protection from the weather;
- have adequate ventilation, equipped with screens;
- have floors that are tight and in good repair;
- be free of rodents and insects; and
- have covered garbage containers for each unit that are emptied regularly.
Sleeping quarters must have:
- at least 50 square feet of space per person;
- beds elevated at least 12 inches from the floor;
- a mattress, with a cover, on the bedframe;
- storage for clothing and personal items, like lockers; and
- smoke detectors and at least one fire extinguisher in the building;
Bathrooms and laundry facilities must have:
- at least one working and lighted toilet or outhouse for every 15 people of the same sex;
- at least one working shower head for every 10 people in a room with working heating equipment and an adequate supply of hot water;
- at least one hand-washing basin for every 6 people;
- at least one laundry tub with running hot and cold water for every 30 people; and
- a clothes line.
Kitchens must have:
- stoves with 1 working burner for every 5 people;
- at least 3/4 cubic feet of refrigerator space per person; and
- workers must have access to the kitchen to prepare their own meals if they choose.
If your housing does not meet these basic standards, you can make a complaint to the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL). If you do not want your name revealed to your employer, NCDOL will keep your name confidential. The NCDOL investigators speak Spanish and are skilled at investigating worker complaints. They interview workers privately. They do not identify to the employer workers complain or give them information. If NCDOL finds that your housing falls short of the standards, probably your employer will be given a certain amount of time to make repairs. He will also be given a citation and may have to pay a fine to NCDOL. Under North Carolina law, a worker who makes a complaint about migrant housing is protected against retaliation.
If you would like to make a complaint, you can call NCDOL directly at 1-800-NC-LABOR (1-800-625-2267) or the Farmworker Unit can help you to make a complaint.